Back to school list includes new immunization requirements

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Brianna Price gets an immunization from nurse Janice Poirot at the Visiting Nurse Association in Steamboat Springs on Wednesday afternoon before heading off for her first year at college this fall.

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Brianna Price, right, gets an immunization from nurse Janice Poirot at the Visiting Nurse Association in Steamboat Springs on Wednesday afternoon before heading off for her first year at college this fall.

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For more information about vaccines required by the state Board of Health, visit the agency's Web site or call the VNA at 879-1632.

— Colorado students can expect extra shots to the arm before heading back to school this year.

The shots are necessary because the Colorado Department of Public Health has mandated additional vaccine requirements.

In addition to the vaccine requirements for the 2006-07 school year, the Board of Health approved three new vaccines - Prevnar, varicella and Tdap - in January for the upcoming school year.

To accommodate the demand for more vaccines, the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association will host a drop-in clinic every Wednesday from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. for the remainder of the summer. The Steamboat Springs School District contracts with the VNA to provide nurse services for the district.

"Parents can also get vaccines from their private healthcare provider," said Janice Poirot, a registered nurse with the VNA. "At the VNA, we do not charge more than $14 per vaccine because of the (Colorado) Vaccines for Children program. We will slide that down to zero if we need to if people can't afford the shots."

Dot Haberlan, a VNA nurse who works in the public school system, said a school district audit of fifth- and ninth-grade students last year revealed that about 150 students needed the extra shots.

"What we did is we sent info home with the requirements last March, and in April we did on-site immunization clinics in schools," said Haberlan, who estimated almost a hundred students have yet to receive their vaccines. "I haven't checked my faxes in the past few days, but my box has not been filling up with immunization records this summer."

She added students who do not receive the state-mandated shots will be held out of classes.

"There is no grace period," said Haberlan, who added nurses will soon call noncompliant parents to remind them of the immunization requirements. "The state law says that if you don't have these shots you can't come to class unless they have signed a waiver from their physician."

Haberlan said the school district may have additional immunization clinics on site prior to the first day of school.

The Prevnar, or PCV7 vaccine, is used to treat pneumococcal disease, which Poirot said is highly contagious.

"The disease can have serious effects on infants and young children," she said. "The vaccine will also be required for children in licensed child care."

The Board of Health has mandated a second varicella vaccine to treat chicken pox.

"Every winter, we have outbreaks of varicella outbreaks in the schools, and the state of Colorado is trying to eliminate these outbreaks," said Poirot, who noted children who have a documented case of chicken pox from a doctor are not required to get the second shot.

"Children still die from chicken pox, believe it or not," she said. "They can get it from head to toe, it can spread to secondary infections, and if it's kept alive in the community, the vulnerable populations - such as those who are on cancer treatments or have problems with immune systems, it can be a death sentence" for.

A Tdap, or tetanus/diphtheria/pertussis vaccine, is required of all students going into the sixth and 10th grades. In subsequent years, the vaccine will be incorporated into other grades.

"Even if they have had the old tetanus shot two years ago, they need to get the new one because it didn't (previously) have Pertussis," said Poirot.

Pertussis, or whooping cough, can be a very serious disease in infants and small children.

According to the Colorado Department of Public Health, cases of whooping cough have been climbing in recent years. Colorado ranks fifth in the country with the number of diagnosed whooping cough cases, and in 2005, the number of cases hit a 40-year high.

"There are other things recommended but not required, like the HPV vaccine for girls," Poirot said. "There's also the Hepatitis A and Meningococcal vaccines recommended for all adolescents."

- To reach Mike McCollum, call 871-4208

or e-mail mmccollum@steamboatpilot.com

Comments

jpoirot 6 years, 8 months ago

It is correct that Colorado permits three types of immunization exemptions in the schools: physician, religious and personal belief. The Board of Health provides exemptions under State Statute: http://198.187.128.12/colorado/lpext.dll?f=templates&fn=fs-main.

The new immunization requirements are detailed on the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment web site: http://www.cdphe.state.co.us/dc/Immunization/MEMOTOSCHOOLS.pdf

FAQS on the new requirements may be found at: http://www.cdphe.state.co.us/dc/Immunization/FAQsreBOH.pdf

In Ms Haberlan's defense, I suspect her comments were misquoted, as were several of mine in the article. The short answer is all children in public or private school must have required immunizations, a signed exemption on record with the school or a plan with the school to obtain the required immunization(s) to be compliant with state law. Children with exemptions will be excluded from attending school in the event of a disease outbreak.

From a public health stand point, it is desirable to have a highly immunized population to prevent disease outbreaks, which is the purpose of state mandates for school and licensed child care immunizations.

We are happy to clarify immunization requirements and recommendations for children or adults at the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association (879-1632).
Signed, Janice Poirot NWCOVNA

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dundalk 6 years, 8 months ago

I can't belive in this day and age there are still people who don't immunize their kids. Ever heard of polio, TB, MMR?

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Magpie 6 years, 8 months ago

Thank you for this information (although the first link you provided is broken).

A question for you. I knew that a parent could just write a note to the school saying that their own preference is not to have the immunizations (or a subset) and that is sufficient for attendance, however you wrote, "Children with exemptions will be excluded from attending school in the event of a disease outbreak."

How is this decided? Is this up to the school district of the CDE or a health organization? Do you think that parents are advised of this when they turn in their "no immunization preference" note?

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ZenCueist 6 years, 8 months ago

Haberlan is a liar. "The state law says that if you don't have these shots you can't come to class unless they have signed a waiver from their physician." That's only one of three types of exemption allowed under CRS 25-4-903. The other two are religious or "personal" beliefs of the parent or student which are opposed to immunizations. In other words, you don't have to if you don't want to. Only a parent, guardian, or emancipated student's signature on the immunization record form is required to claim these "belief" exemptions. An exempted student can be kept out of school only if the state or local public health director declares that there is a danger of an epidemic... and he'd better be prepared to back it up.

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Hadleyburg_Press 6 years, 8 months ago

"An exempted student can be kept out of school only if the state or local public health director declares that there is a danger of an epidemic... and he'd better be prepared to back it up."

So how do you go about PREVENTING an epidemic?

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corduroy 6 years, 8 months ago

All I know is when I went to college in NY I had to show them records of my immunizations, They wouldn't let me enroll without it. For the safety of everyone its just better to get your shots

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Matthew Stoddard 6 years, 8 months ago

Nice clarification, Janice! Jenn and I thought it was pretty cool that it was you giving Brianna the shot. Give her 2 for flinching!! Even if she didn't flinch!

Give my best to Cody!

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Scott Stanford 6 years, 8 months ago

Janice, et al:

I take seriously the accusation that individuals were misquoted. Neither the reporter nor I have heard from anyone claiming they were misquoted about anything in this article. If something needs to be corrected, I will be glad to do so on the front page of the newspaper.

Scott Stanford Editor, Steamboat Pilot & Today (970) 871-4221/(970) 291-9278 editor@steamboatpilot.com

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